A novel is a book-length fictional prose narrative that contains six primary elements: character, plot, point of view, setting, style, and theme. Let's look at these six through a sample novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
The characters of any novel are its actors—those people who perform actions and who are the recipients of actions. In the first Harry Potter novel, the protagonist (main character) is Harry Potter himself, but he is joined by a whole host of other characters, including Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Hagrid, Dumbledore, and Voldemort.
A novel's plot is its storyline, which begins with an exposition, rises in action and tension until it reaches its climax, and then resolves in its ending. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, we watch as Harry learns of his wizarding heritage, goes to Hogwarts, and becomes involved in the mystery of the hidden Sorcerer's Stone. The novel reaches its climax when Harry meets Voldemort face to face and then resolves when Dumbledore explains various circumstances to Harry and Harry heads back to the Dursleys' home for the summer.
All novels are told from a point of view, which is a perspective on the action. Sometimes we have a third-person narrator who is not otherwise part of the story. This is the case in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, yet even here, the narrator speaks mostly from Harry's perspective, delving into his thoughts and feelings rather than those of other characters. Other novels have omniscient third-person narrators who tell the story from multiple perspectives. Still others are told from the first-person viewpoint of one of the characters who speaks for himself or herself.
Setting is an important element for a novel. It is the scene or scenes in which the action takes place. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the story's first setting is the Dursleys' house. Then we move with Harry to Hogwarts and watch in fascination as Harry and his friends explore the castle and its grounds. In fact, Hogwarts is such a well-defined setting that it almost becomes a character in its own right.
A novel's style is the author's particular usage of language—his or her word choices, syntax, and other linguistic elements. J. K. Rowling uses a fairly simple linguistic style for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but the book is vivid in its details, imagery, and symbolism.
Finally, novels explore various themes or ideas that help readers grasp the message and meaning of the story. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone revolves around such themes as the power of love, home and belonging, friendship, good versus evil, and self-sacrifice.